Did You See The 2013 Northeast Fireball?

American Meteor Society received more than 500 reports of a bright meteor that occurred around 8 p.m. Friday night. "The witnesses range from along the Atlantic coast ranging from Maine to North Carolina."

The American Meteor Society received more than 500 reports of people seeing a bright meteor around 8 p.m. Friday, all along the Atlantic coast from Maine to North Carolina:  

For those not familiar with meteors and fireballs, a fireball is a meteor that is larger than normal. Most meteors are only the size of small pebbles. A meteor the size of a softball can produce light equivalent to the full moon for a short instant. The reason for this is the extreme velocity at which these objects strike the atmosphere. Even the slowest meteors are still traveling at 10 miles per SECOND, which is much faster than a speeding bullet. Fireballs occur every day over all parts of the Earth. It is rare though for an individual to see more than one or two per lifetime as they also occur during the day, on a cloudy night, or over a remote area where no one sees it. Observing during one of the major annual meteor showers can increase your chance of seeing another one of these bright meteors.

Read more on the American Meteor Society Web site.

Sightings all over Connecticut reported to American Meteor Society

The AMS provides a heatmap of the sightings on their Web site, along with an estimated trajectory.

Included on the sightings map are dozens of reports from Connecticut in Cheshire, East Windsor, Roxbury, Watertown, Fairfield, Meriden, Shelton, Rocky Hill, Harwinton, Winchester, New Canaan, Greenwich, Collinsville, Uncasville, Southington, New Milford, Brookfield, Naugatuck, Stratford, and Newtown. In some towns, there were multiple reports. 

A fireball, defined by the American Meteor Society is a "very bright meteor, generally brighter than magnitude -4, which is about the same magnitude of the planet Venus in the morning or evening sky."

"I thought I was losing my mind," Ashley Austin wrote on the Ellington-Somers Patch Facebook page. "I saw some weird flashes of light streak through the sky and then a burst of light behind the clouds."

"Brightest meteor I have seen ... " 

"Brightest meteor I have seen in the last 40 years...." said the person reporting from New Milford.

Twitter was abuzz Friday night with reports of a large, bright meteor streaking across the night sky over the Eastern Seaboard.

Twitter user Brenton Laverty characterized it as a huge, green meteor burning up over DC just before 8 p.m.

"It was amazing"

There were similar accounts in Connecticut, from Greenwich to Orange, up to Naugatuck and out to Bethel and every where in between — and beyond.

"my grand daughter saw it on route 8 at 8 pm and said it was amazing," Roberta Poynton wrote on the Naugatuck Patch Facebook page.

On the Orange Patch Facebook page, Michele Prezioso Mehan wrote, "Scout Troop camping in Greenwich spotted it at 755pm. It was visible for about 20 seconds. Approached West to South."

"It looked like it was right over Caraluzzi's!"

"Saw it while I was driving down Greenwood Avenue at around 7:55. It looked like it was right over Caraluzzi's!" Jeannine Fagan wrote on Bethel Patch's Facebook page.

Over on Long Island, there were many sightings as well.  Several North Fork residents are among the hundreds of people on the East Coast who reported seeing a meteor-like flash of light shortly before 8 p.m. Eileen Szymczak Moore Sayre reported on North Fork Patch's Facebook page she saw it in Orient while waiting for the ferry. And Stacy Marshall Paetzel said she saw it from her living room in Cutchogue.

She said, "I wasn't even looking out the window it was that bright!"

Similar reports across the East End of Long Island

Similar reports were also made across the East End.

Diane Jones reported on Westhampton-Hampton Bays Patch's Facebook page that she and her husband saw it at 7:54 p.m. as they passed by the Westhampton Beach Country Club.

She said, "It was beautiful."

And on Southampton Patch's Facebook Lisa Zbar Watson said she spotted at least one meteor breaking up over Oak Grove Road in North Sea.

Patch readers from East Hampton also said they saw the flash of light.

If you missed it, you might get another chance to see something ... 

If you missed it (bummer!) here is information from the American Meteor Society on meteor showers that are expected to be active this week. They include the large Anthelion (ANT) radiant, and "IMO #49 ... an unnamed shower active between March 22 and April 7."

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately three sporadic meteors per hour during the last hour before dawn as seen from rural observing sites. Evening rates would be near one per hour. As seen from the mid-southern hemisphere (45S), morning rates would be near five per hour as seen from rural observing sites and two per hour during the evening hours. Locations between these two extremes would see activity between the listed figures. Rates are reduced during this period due to moonlight.

Did you spot the bright object in the sky Friday night? What did it look like? Let us know in the comments.

Andrew Payne March 23, 2013 at 02:03 PM
It was awesome! 7:54 by my watch. It changed colors. First it was white/yellow, then I saw a flash of green, then red then back to white/yellow. I'm in Perryville, MD. It came from the ENE and headed east about 30 degrees off the horizon.


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